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Hotels. Motels. Rental homes. RVs. House swaps. Campgrounds. Glampgrounds. When it comes to accommodations, travelers have a lot of options today. Airbnb has really gained steam in recent years. The COVID-19 pandemic took a toll on it, with Statista reporting that the vacation rental company saw a 40 percent drop in revenue during 2020. However, shortly after that, something interesting happened. The thousands of people suddenly working from home realized they could work from anywhere, and more long-term stays were booked on AirBnb. Many also realized they preferred the isolation of a home over a hotel while COVID-19 was at large.

There’s a lot to love about AirBnbs, and a survey conducted by Institutional Real Estate found that 60 percent of travelers say they prefer Airbnb stays to hotel stays. However, those travelers also report equal satisfaction levels at both hotels and AirBnbs. There’s no right or wrong way to vacation. When there is a lot of hype around anything, it’s important to ask yourself what’s right for you. So, hotel vs Airbnb? What’s best for your trip? We break down the pros and cons of each below.


Hotels Offer Instant Changes/Upgrades

Hotel Lobby with Employees and Guests

Source: RichLegg / Getty

If you arrive at your hotel to find that you aren’t pleased with your room, most hotels can quickly give you a new room to accommodate your needs. Want a different view? A room further from the lobby? Double beds instead of a king? A hotel has options and, depending on availability, might be able to move you to your new preferred accommodations right away. If you arrive at an Airbnb and find that it isn’t to your liking, finding new accommodations right away won’t be so easy. Your host usually just has one property to offer.


AirBnbs Are (Mostly) Quiet

Young couple enjoying and relaxing by the pool

Source: Dimensions / Getty

AirBnbs can be in secluded areas, offering incredible privacy, peace and serenity. Even in a boutique hotel, there will always be others around. If you’re looking for tranquility and a little isolation, an Airbnb is the way to go. However, isolation isn’t a good thing for everybody. Some people like the option to socialize – which hotels offer. You can be alone in your room, but know that you can find people to chat with down in the lobby, by the pool or at the bar. For some, crowds are annoying and for others, they’re half the fun. Stay in an Airbnb if you want peace and quiet and a hotel if you like to meet new people.


Hotel Chains Are Predictable

Checking into a Hotel

Source: SolStock / Getty

Major hotel chains tend to promise a certain standard for cleanliness, design, safety, amenities and other features that are important to travelers. Many travelers take comfort in knowing what to expect when they stay at a hotel. In fact, research out of Springer found that reliability is a top factor contributing to brand loyalty among hotel guests. Holiday Inn, Marriott, Hilton – these are names that contain a certain guarantee. If you stay in one, you know what you’ll get. If that is important to you, then hotels can be especially useful for international travel, when finding the facts about smaller local hotels isn’t easy. If your accommodation is mostly just going to be the place where you sleep and shower, and you’ll find adventure outside its doors, a predictable chain hotel can be a good choice.


AirBnbs Are Unique

View Of Footbridge Over Pond By House

Source: Onur Cepheli / EyeEm / Getty

Some travelers take a trip to truly immerse themselves in a new environment or culture. They want to live the way the locals do and fully escape their normal life. An Airbnb can offer that experience. Many hosts make the effort to make the local culture feel present inside of their properties and to provide insightful tourism tips on places to visit and restaurants to eat at. Some locations are also situated in special and breathtaking landscapes where a hotel simply couldn’t fit like tucked within a hillside or on the edge of a lake. Those who want much of the transformative experience of travel to come from their accommodations should look into Airbnb.


Hotels Offer Good Refund Policies

African woman is purchasing online

Source: ljubaphoto / Getty

One survey that was a collaboration between PYMENTS and Fortis found that flexible cancellation and refund policies can attract travel customers. This is especially true following a pandemic when the world saw how quickly a rise in cases and new travel restrictions could mean canceled vacations. Hotels typically offer better cancellation policies than Airbnb. In fact, currently, you must cancel within 48 hours of making your reservation on Airbnb to get your full refund. After that, you can only expect to get half of your money back – and even that only occurs if you cancel within a week of your actual trip dates. Many hotels offer free cancellation with a full refund up to 48 hours and sometimes even 24 hours before your stay. If you know you might need to change or cancel your trip, a hotel is probably the way to go.


AirBnbs Offer Bang For Your Buck

Friends enjoying their holidays at the inn

Source: MesquitaFMS / Getty

While booking with Airbnb can mean a monetary loss if you must cancel your trip, it can also mean dollars saved if the trip goes through. A quick look at shows you that the average nightly stay in an Airbnb in Los Angeles – one of the most notoriously expensive cities to stay in a hotel – is just around $194 per night. Meanwhile, shows that hotels in the city center of LA range from $208 to over $700 per night. These types of cost comparisons remain consistent across most major travel destinations in the United States.


Hotels Are Impersonal, but Maybe That’s Good?

Nervous African woman typing on laptop in living room

Source: Inti St Clair / Getty

Hotels might have a few pieces of generic, mass-printed art and high-end but boring bedding. The staff can give you some general information about what to do and see in the area, but they’ve often received instructions on what they can and cannot recommend. Airbnb hosts give that personal touch and go the extra mile. They can give you personal recommendations, helping you curate an unforgettable stay. They’re also often available around the clock via text or online messaging, should you need assistance. However, that last point can be an annoyance for some when hosts are in touch too much. Plus, leaving anything less than a raving review for an Airbnb is sensitive. You know you’re speaking about someone’s private property. There’s no such concern for someone’s feelings when reviewing a hotel. Some travelers like the impersonal, plug-and-play nature of a hotel room while others crave that personal touch of an Airbnb.

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